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Photonics Goes for the Gold

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Kevin Robinson and Michael D. Wheeler, Staff Editors

Locker-room quality control: Photonics improves athletes' performance
When people use computers or audio equipment, ride cars and planes, or check out their groceries, photonics is there, making things run faster and better.
That is becoming a fact of life in the sports world, too. When the crack of the bat sounds like extra bases, when a speed skater leads the pack home, when a drag racer turns in a track record, there's an increasingly good chance that photonics had a hand in it. Often the same technology commonly seen in the factory is enabling racecar drivers, ball players, gymnasts and other athletes to monitor their performance with the precision of a quality control engineer.

No horsing around: IR cameras detect injury early
Thoroughbred horses can represent millions of dollars in investments by their owners. To protect these investments, Tom Ivers owner of Equine Racing Systems in Washougal, Wash., uses an IR camera to examine horses legs for injury.

Staying on target: Photonics trains biathletes
The biathlon is a test of cross-country skiing endurance as well as of shooting skill. The two skills cross paths when a heavy breathing skier needs to shoot a tiny target 50 meters away. Shooting cadence, the way shooters approach the target and how well they stay on the target with the rifle's recoil, determines how well they shoot.
To track the shooting cadence, Tim Conrad, principle engineer at the U.S. Olympic Training Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., designed an IR laser and camera combination to videotape a biathlete's shooting performance.

The Top 10 Uses of Photonics to Improve Performance in Sports.
. A "top 10 list" of how photonics is helping to develop better athletes and equipment.

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1997

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